During the early '60s, the Prestige label's Swingville subsidiary was home to a stable of talent that in hindsight was surely an embarrassment of riches, taking into account such names as Coleman Hawkins, Buck Clayton, Budd Johnson, Claude Hopkins, and Buddy Tate. The last two names contributed greatly to the copiousness of this catalog, although they came from distinct backgrounds. Texas tenor man Buddy Tate is the younger of the two and his claim to fame has always been as a prominent voice among the Count Basie Orchestra, while pianist Hopkins was a distinguished bandleader during the '30s who never really received his critical and popular dues.
The middle of three albums Tate would record for Swingville, 1960's TATE-A-TATE matches the saxophonist's ebullient tenor with the equally convivial trumpet of Clark Terry. An all-star rhythm crew includes Tommy Flanagan, Larry Gales, and Art Taylor. Taken for granted at the time of its release, the front line alone delivers a distinctive punch that recalls the past but also looks forward to the future. Terry's individualistic voice is so resourceful that just the first few notes of "Snatchin' It Back," with the trumpeter's characteristic smears, are all that's needed in identifying him. Tate blows up a storm and croons the blues on a smoky "Groun' Hog." Available on CD for the first time ever, this is one of Tate's crowning achievements.
Pianist Claude Hopkins would also record three sets for Swingville, with YES INDEED! the first of these and the second set featured on this disc. Much more subdued in comparison to the Tate sides, there's still plenty to be gleaned from this quintet affair. The little known and underappreciated trumpeter Emmett Berry makes a strong showing here, while adding to his considerably small discography. Hopkins sounds positively modern, considering his beginnings as a stride and swing-styled player. Rudy Van Gelder's then state-of-the-art recording quality would mean the first time that Hopkins would be so well presented on tape up to that point. Taken in tandem with a previous two-fer that includes Hopkins other two Swingville albums, one can now get a much better picture of this overlooked talent.